Upcoming Events

social media speaking schedule

If you call Cleveland or the Philippines home, I may be seeing you in November. I’ve got a couple of really cool events on the books and I hope I see you there…

November 10, 2010 – Cleveland, OH – The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association

I was delighted when Rick Turner, President of HSMAI’s Cleveland chapter, reached out to see if I’d be interested in being a part of a panel to discuss: “If I Could Go Back – What I’ve Learned and What I’d Do Differently”. I love the idea of sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. I really think that we can learn far more from the times we fall down and the moments we struggle than when everything is on the up and up. Michael Cerbelli will be a co-panelist along with a very successful local restaurateur.

November 23-25, 2010 – Manila, Philippines – Full Day Workshops

November 27, 2010 – Boracay, Philippines – Full Day Workshop

On the heels of a fantastic webinar last week with Philippines-based ad agencies, publishing, banking, CPG and pharmaceutical conglomerates, I will be returning to Manila to deliver my full-day Social Media Strategy workshop. The Philippines is officially one of my favorite places on earth – so I can’t wait to be back to enjoy the warm people, hot air, beautiful beaches and to-die-for shakes.

Will you be there?


7 tips to activate social influence marketing

how to use influencers

83% of purchase decisions are influenced by Word of Mouth (source: Groundswell). Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogs, Forums and Rating & Review Sites are a virtual smorgasbord of comments that can persuade us to buy or stay away.

But some people have more influence over our decisions than others. It might be that they are actively involved in the communities we’re members of, or are trusted sources of information on a particular subject, or they simply have a vast network of connections. These people are called Influencers.

Social Influence Marketing is primarily the act of leveraging Influencers to amplify a message. But, getting people to help shape your customer’s purchase decisions isn’t easy. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

7 tips to activate Social Influence Marketing

  1. You have to find them first. It’s not always obvious who is an influencer. It takes time and wearwithal to filter through the millions of users online and find the ones who genuinely impact your target market. There are tools abound that help companies find the right amplifier. Rapleaf, Radian6 and Media6Degrees are just three such paid tools. There are also many free tools that can help guide you to the right people, namely: SocialMention and Twitter Search.
  2. You have to qualify how much of an influence they really are.
    Influencer50 has defined criteria to measure the degree of influence one holds:
    Market Reach – the number of people an individual has the ability to connect with.
    Independence – whether an influencer has a vested interest in promoting a particular point of view.
    Frequency of Impact – the number of opportunities an individual has to influence buying decisions.
    Expertise – how much of a subject matter expert is the influencer.
    Persuasiveness – the degree of consequence in ignoring an influencer’s advice.
    Thoroughness of role – the extent to which influence is exerted across the decision lifecycle.
  3. You have to know what motivates them. So, now you’ve found them. The next challenge is to motivate them to spread your message. Some businesses believe this is as simple as throwing some money at them. This is often a big mistake. Although there are a number of powerful influencers who do get paid to write reviews or promote products, others are vehemently against it and believe it will hurt their trust and credibility. Instead of money, these types of individuals may be driven to be the first to report about an interesting new product. They may be looking for authority recognition or press. Or, they may simply want to provide their network with an exclusive deal or offer. It’s also important to recognize that these types are also likely to want to be blatantly honest with their review or experience (see #7). The key is to find out what is important to them, how this may affect your message and, ultimately, what will motivate them.
  4. You have to make it easy for them to amplify your message. First thing first, unremarkable ideas offline will be unremarkable online. If you want someone to be motivated to talk about you, you need to be talk-worthy. You also need to provide the influencer with a rich resource of information to be able to experience without overwhelming them. You have to be clear about what you’re trying to say. And, you have to make it easy to share (think links, videos, product trials, etc). Make it difficult for someone to talk about you and they’ll be silent.
  5. You must think ethically. If you ask someone to promote or persuade, they have an obligation to disclose this information to their readers and followers. And you have an obligation to disclose your relationship with them. WOMMA put together an ethics policy that I think does a good job of covering standards of conduct. I recently heard a great example of ethics gone wrong. Netflix, who has recently launched in Canada, held a launch event which drew a great crowd. The media was there in droves and began interviewing the crowd to hear what they had to say. It was leaked a few hours later that a good percentage of people in the crowd were hired actors paid to say wonderful things about the launch. This type of behavior is unethical, and in many countries, illegal.
  6. You should give them a taste. If you want someone to speak with passion, to believe in their statements and to feel good about their endorsement, you must allow them to try what it is you’re selling. Not to mention this is the law for many countries – and for good reason. Again, it is unethical for someone to talk positively and influence the perception of others if they’ve never tried it themselves.
  7. You should consider involving them in the process. One of the things I mentioned above is that if you want someone very influential to speak about you, you need to be prepared for anything they might say. One way of helping to build a positive experience for them is to involve them in beta testing, planning, or pre-launch trials. Ask them what they have to say before it’s launched to a broader audience and help them shape a better experience. Not only will you have a presumably better outcome, but you’ll have an influencer with a vested interest in its success.

Other Social Influence Marketing / WOM Resources

I’m going to be speaking at The Special Event Show 2011 on the topic of Social Influence Marketing on January 25, 2011 at 4:00PM.

Jeff Hurt over at Velvet Chainsaw wrote a great post about WOM Marketing for Event Marketers.


The 2 most important words in social media

social media strategy

The 2 most important words in social media

In this new era of Social Media, words like engagement, community, relationships, listening all feel a bit like a tune playing over and over again from a record stuck on repeat . And for good reason…but these aren’t the words I’m referring to.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the recent firestorm surrounding Price Chopper. It all began when someone tweeted the following message about Price Chopper:Price chopper social media

Now, let’s face it. This is not a remarkable tweet. In fact, I’d wager a guess that Price Chopper gets quite a few of these sorts of tweets every week. But what happened next was remarkable.

A Price Chopper PR Associate (originally reported as the Price Chopper PR Team) took it upon herself to look up the author of the tweet, identify their employer through their Twitter Bio and call the employer directly to complain about the employee. The fact that a corporate employee would address a negative comment in such a way has resulted in a lot of heated conversation – specifically around liability and ethics.

Alright, alright…what are the words already?!?

Risk & Mitigation

I hope that every single business who reads this post will not only take the time to read the original report as well as the flurry of comments that ensued, but also sit down with key employees within your organization to discuss the potential exposure your business has to similar experiences. Small businesses do not spend enough time talking about risks as well as what to do to mitigate those risks.

  • What will your business do if an employee goes rogue via social media channels?
  • What will you do if an employee mistakenly releases proprietary news or information about your or your client’s company?
  • What will you do if someone exposes something negative about your organization?
  • What will you do if someone talks about a bad experience with your company?

No one can predict the future. But, we can learn from other people’s successes as well as their mistakes. Many, like Comcast and Dominos have been able to turn similar negative situations into opportunities that turned their businesses around. But if you ask them, they’ll likely say they wish they had learned their lesson the easy way.

So please do yourself a favor and spend time thinking through risks and mitigation.

How to get more newsletter subscribers & facebook fans

I have a really short answer to the title of this post. But first, let’s talk about why ‘getting more subscribers’ and ‘attracting more fans’ is paramount to business professionals. We want immediate results. We live in a culture bombarded with messages like: “Lose 10 lbs without diet and exercise!”, “Get your MBA in 2 weeks”, “Look 10 years younger without going under the knife”. We seem to be on a constant quest for silver bullets and magic pills. Most of us know these promises of immediate results and riches are equal to that of the snake oil salesman, yet many of us still get tempted.

A disturbing trend

How to get more newsletter subscribers

In the past week I’ve come across a post on Twitter promising a Newsletter Subscriber Exchange and a LinkedIn post promoting a Facebook Fan Page Exchange.

How to get more facebook fans
Here’s the issue with both of these strategies to build followers. Quantity means absolutely nothing on its own. What matters is what you want people to do with the content you create and how many people took that action.

If you have 300 people on your newsletter list who care not about what you’re writing about, what is the value of your list? Nothing. If you have 300 followers on your Facebook Fan Page who do not actively engage with what you post, what is the value of your followers? Nothing.

The answer to the question?

How do you get more newsletter subscribers & facebook fans?

Work hard, invest time, add value, solve problems, listen, respond, build relationships…but whatever you do, don’t get tempted by the silver bullet.


Why marketing is broken

marketing is brokenI recently came across a blog post by Skyline Tradeshow Tips that highlighted how 10 experts define Marketing. Definitions on the meaning of marketing that were included are below:

  1. “Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business development. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.” — Wikipedia
  2. “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” — American Marketing Association
  3. “Marketing is everything.” — Regis McKenna
  4. “Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.” – Peter Drucker
  5. “Marketing is the social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others.” — Philip Kotler
  6. “Marketing is the process whereby society, to supply its consumption needs, evolves distributive systems composed of participants, who, interacting under constraints – technical (economic) and ethical (social) – create the transactions or flows which resolve market separations and result in exchange and consumption.” – Bartles
  7. “Marketing is any contact that your business has with anyone who isn’t a part of your business. Marketing is also the truth made fascinating. Marketing is the art of getting people to change their minds. Marketing is an opportunity for you to earn profits with your business, a chance to cooperate with other businesses in your community or your industry and a process of building lasting relationships.” — Jay Conrad Levinson
  8. “Marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you.” — Jon Jantsch (of Duct Tape Marketing fame)
  9. Marketing is “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” — The Chartered Institute of Marketing
  10. “Marketing is the process of anticipating, managing, and satisfying the demand for products, services, and ideas.” — Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

This post really got me thinking. The biggest problem with the experts’ definitionas were their obvious disparity. And for this reason, I want to express my concern that Marketing is Broken. As this list demonstrates, it has become an overly-complex and ill-understood practice. If we, as marketers, can’t come to a consensus about what our business is, how can we possibly expect those who don’t practice marketing to understand it…let alone pay for it?

I would like to challenge everyone who is a practitioner of marketing to toss out the hogwash industry speak and self-sustaining descriptions and get real about what marketing really is:

  • Marketing is about selling something. Any definitions that skirt around that are missing the mark.
  • Marketing is not about tools. Any definitions that lack an essence of strategy are incomplete.
  • Marketing is about communicating value. The only way someone buys is if they feel there is an exchange of value for money spent. Many marketers miss this fundamental point.
  • Marketing is (ethically) persuasive. Let’s be honest, our job is to influence and persuade our customers.

In my opinion, Seth Godin said it best:

Marketing is the art of telling a story to a consumer that they want to hear that lets them persuade themselves that they want to buy something.

What do you think?